Snow Works – It’s In The name

Phil Smith, director of Snoworks Ski Courses discusses our greatest ally – snow

Snow – Try skiing without it and you’ll soon realize what an amazing element it is. Many have tried to replicate it and in many cases the imitation does the job pretty well. I grew up on an artificial ski slope and our surface at the time was Ski Mat. A plastic moulded material made up of thousands of bristles. Then came Dendix, a surface made of thousands of fibres. I have both surfaces to thank as without them I and many others would probably not be skiing today. Dave Ryding the current British Number 1 did much of his learning on artificial ski slopes in his early days.

There are other surfaces that do a similar job. Sand and grass have both been used to ski on and of course water and now artificial snow.

There are two things all these surfaces have in common. They are slippery and have the ability to deform and snow is the best by far. It’s the most slippy and the most easy to deform.

We may not quite appreciated what an incredible element snow actually is. Millions of people get pleasure from it. From tiny tots making snowmen to the millions of those getting pleasure from skiing to the countless people involved in the snowsports industry that require it to earn a living. It can be used to keep us warm whilst at the same time used to keep us cold. It can be our best friend on those blue sunny days and our worst foe in the event of an avalanche. We have seen what a drastic effect the lack of snow can have on peoples livelihoods and how when we have lots of it, it can bring joy to so many people.

It is why we chose to use it in the name of our ski course company, Snoworks.

If you truly want to take your skiing to a new level it’s time to develop a partnership with this truly amazing substance.

The first thing is to understand is the quality of snow. It’s slippery and has the ability to give, move, yield, deform and it is this quality you need to understand so you can use it to your advantage.

In all sports there has to be two surfaces that work together. As the saying goes ‘It takes two to Tango’. Driving a car it’s rubber and tarmac, flying – the surface of the aircraft and air, surfing – the surfboard and water, golf – the head of the club and the golf ball, tennis – the racket strings and the ball. There are always at least two surfaces that have to work together. It’s a partnership and in skiing the partnership are the edges and bases of our skis and the snow. The bits that touch.

That may seem a pretty obvious statement but knowledge of it and the ability to use it to your advantage can take your skiing to a level you never thought possible. Imagine using snow to create changes of direction, to slow down or even speed up. Imagine rather than battling and struggling in deep snow using it to deflect you. Imagine rather than using all your energy to slow down you can use the snow like the brakes of your car. Imagine when hitting ice rather than panicking, freezing and loosing control you can use the ice to assist your descent and help you rather than hinder you. Imagine using every variable of snow – slush, bumps, windslab, ice to your advantage. In fact every facet of snow – the depth, the texture and the shape of the terrain can be used. It can become your partner, friend, ally, your best buddy, your saviour.

Great skiers make skiing look so easy. Gripping effortlessly on ice, floating in powder, meandering like a river through bumps. Great skiers dance with the mountain.

Where is the partner in ‘face down hill’, ‘stand up’, ‘sink done’. ‘put more weight on the outside ski’. Working on technique with no partner is like learning to fly with no air, swim with no water, windsurf with no wind. Crazy, yes, but this is what thousands of skiers are doing. Skiing with little or no relationship with the snow. Making movements but not connecting, imitating a way of skiing but not engaging.

Many skiers are obsessed with how they look, what their technique is like, whether they are skiing correctly. They’ve taken their eye of the goal. Losing sight of what great skiing is. It’s not how you look, it’s not your technique, it’s how you react with your partner. Skiing is a dance with the mountain and it’s YOUR dance not someone else’s, not your instructor’s, your coach’s, your friend’s, your partner’s, it’s yours and yours alone.

Ice does not need to be feared or slush, steep slopes, deep snow or bumps. It’s all the same element just reshaped, tilted, worn away, warmed up, cooled down. It all started as the same – a snow flake. It’s all snow in all it’s different forms. Engage with it, use it, work with it, become friends with it, make it your best buddy and your skiing will just get better and better and better.

So the next time you see  slush – use it, the next time you hit ice – use it, the next time you see a bump – use it, the next time you ski in deep snow – use it. Use it all, connect with it, engage with it, work with it, make it your partner.

Remember Snow Works.

Photo: Polly Baldwin Dynamic Pictures
Skier: Emma Carrick-Anderson, 4 time Olympic skier and Snoworks coach
Snow: White, fluffy, slippery – the ability to deform

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